OARnet and OhioLINK have been awarded $12.1 and $2.5 million, respectively, from the Ohio Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund through the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The funding will be used to increase available content and broadband and internet speeds at colleges and universities throughout Ohio.
Established by Congress as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the GEER Fund assists the K-12 and higher education institutions most impacted by the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Education awarded grants from the fund to each state’s governor for further distribution.
“The pandemic has put tremendous stress on institutions of higher education, their faculty and students in the pivot to online instruction, and we’re thankful to Governor Mike DeWine’s office for providing assistance through GEER funds,” said Randy Gardner, chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
OARnet’s Last Mile Enhancement Program increases broadband speeds, expands access
With its $12.1 million award, OARnet will establish the Last Mile Enhancement Program to increase broadband speeds by 1,000% at 40 Ohio colleges and universities and double the internet subscriptions at all 87 connected member institutions throughout the state for two years.
OARnet will work with commercial “last mile” providers to upgrade connections to its ultra-fast 5,500-mile fiber optic backbone at each of the 40 institutions. Currently no faster than one Gigabit per second (Gbps), the connection speeds will increase to 10 Gbps, an improvement that could, for instance, shorten a transfer of one terabyte of data from 160 minutes to 16.
The 40 institutions include community, technical and four-year colleges and universities, both public and private, whose networks have experienced unprecedented demand following the sudden shift to remote and hybrid learning models due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“COVID-19 accelerated a pre-existing trend in the expansion of remote and hybrid learning,” Chancellor Gardner said. “The Last Mile Enhancement Program enables Ohio’s faculty and instructors to continue delivering high quality academic experiences in this new environment.”
OhioLINK bridges COVID-created gaps in instructional materials and library resources
OhioLINK, Ohio’s academic library consortium, will put its $2.5 million award towards the purchase of digital resources such as streaming video and e-books to support online teaching and research in a wide range of disciplines, including physical and applied science courses that traditionally have not been taught online.
Leveraging its aggregated purchasing power, OhioLINK negotiated deals for five collections to address a broad range of curriculum, with two collections focusing on the most pressing resource needs in STEM subjects and the allied health fields. The new content packages, available for use starting with the spring semester, include JoVE Core Science Videos + Lab Manuals, InfoBase Films on Demand, Wiley Cochrane Library, MIT Press Direct and Sage Business Cases.
OhioLINK member institution librarians have been invaluable in helping their faculty navigate the existing e-resources available to support online/hybrid courses and research. The immediate nature of the pandemic response and related budget challenges meant that individual libraries were not in a position to acquire newly needed materials on their own.
“OhioLINK’s capability to identify, negotiate, and manage the distribution of these resources across the state will help us address some of these challenges, as well as ensure that the Ohio Department of Higher Education is delivering broad, positive impact for teaching and education,” Chancellor Gardner said.
The Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet), a member of the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Ohio Technology Consortium (OH-TECH), provides technology solutions for Ohio's education, public broadcasting, health care and government communities. Since 1987, OARnet has identified and deployed shared services that reduce costs, deliver quality programs, increase productivity and improve customer service. Communities voluntarily participate in the OARnet consortium because they value these benefits and services. Ultimately, OARnet promotes community and economic development by expanding access to affordable technology. Learn more at oar.net.
Established in 1992, the Ohio Library and Information Network (OhioLINK) is Ohio’s statewide academic library consortium, serving 88 institutions plus the State Library of Ohio. Delivering both IT infrastructure and content negotiation, OhioLINK provides students, researchers, faculty, and staff with access to valuable digital research collections at a fraction of the cost if those collections were purchased by individual institutions. OhioLINK also connects library services, print and digital collections among its member institutions and manages collaborative services aimed at reducing students’ cost of higher education in Ohio, including eTutoring and Affordable Learning. A member of the Ohio Technology Consortium of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, OhioLINK creates a competitive advantage for its member institutions and supports student and researcher success across Ohio. Learn more at ohiolink.edu.
Governed by the Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE), the Ohio Technology Consortium (OH-TECH) serves as the technology and information division of ODHE. The consortium comprises a suite of widely respected member organizations collectively unsurpassed in any other state: OSC, OARnet and OhioLINK. The consortium drives efficiencies through common services provided to member organizations through the Shared Infrastructure and Consortia Services divisions.
OH-TECH Communications Manager